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February 2017 Climate Summary

The Western Cape experienced a typically dry February in the winter rainfall regions, while wetter conditions prevailed in the eastern side of the Central Karoo as well as the southern coastal areas (slide 1).  The West Coast, Cape Winelands and western parts of the Central Karoo received less than 5mm rain.  The Overberg and Little Karoo recorded between 10-25mm of rain.  The coastal areas of Eden and the north eastern parts of the Central Karoo experienced above 25mm rains.    

Comparing the rainfall to the historical long term means (slide 2) show that the West Coast, Cape Winelands and large parts of western side of the Karoo regions experienced extremely below normal rainfall.  Rainfall conditions improved towards the eastern side of the Central Karoo which includes the eastern side of the Eden district. 

slide 1


slide 2


Slide 3 summarizes data from 36 weather stations which take into account total monthly rainfall, mean monthly maximum (Tmax) and minimum temperatures (Tmin) for February 2017 including corresponding historical long term means.  The overall average rainfall (mean of 36 weather stations) is about half of the long term mean rainfall (calculated similarly) for February.   The latter is confirmed by the fact that half of the weather stations recorded total monthly rainfall equal to or less than 2.5mm, of which 15 weather stations recorded between less than 1mm to no rain.  The highest total monthly rainfall of 45mm (below the long term average of 53mm) was recorded at Murraysburg.

Monthly mean Tmax of the weather stations ranged between 25.3 (Outeniqua) to 36.4 ºC (Citrusdal) while the long term average equivalent ranged between 25.1 to 35.4 ºC.  The overall average Tmax of the 36 weather stations was 31.3 ºC, which is 0.6 degrees more than the corresponding long term mean.  About half of the weather stations indicated positive (monthly average) Tmax anomalies (monthly Tmax for Feb. 2017 vs long term ≥ +0.5 ºC), of which the highest anomaly of 2.9 ºC was recorded at Oudtshoorn.


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slide 3

Slide 3

Monthly mean Tmin of the same weather stations ranged 12.7 (Elands Bay) to 19.9 ºC (Prince Albert), resulting in an overall average of 15.5 ºC.  All three figures corresponded well with long term figures.  Monthly mean Tmin anomalies at 14 of the weather stations were negative (≤ -0.5 ºC), most extreme anomaly (-1.2 ºC) recorded at Vredendal. 

The state of provincial dam levels (slide 4) dropped to an overall average of 32% (last year 39%) on the 27th February, indicating a further decline for most dams in the province.  The water level of Theewaterskloof Dam was 27% (last year 42%). 

In terms of current growing conditions in the province (slide 5), improvement in rainfall during January and February clearly brought relief (noted in the greener areas) to the Murraysburg and southern coastal areas, although most of the Karoo areas (incl. the little version around Oudtshoorn), still need substantial follow-up rainfall.

While ENSO remains neutral, there is indication for El Niño to return by the spring season this year, resulting in possible dry conditions for summer rainfall areas.  According to SAWS (statement released on 23-February) concerning the Western Cape for the period March to May, the chance for above normal rainfall is at most 40%, while above-normal temperatures are predicted (chance up to 40%).   Due to high uncertainty in forecasts, users are advised to regularly review updated medium and short term forecasts to identify any intermediate change.

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slide 5


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Agri-Oulook January 2017

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